We are a couple in our 50's who have cruised 8 times, we took our 3 grown children & spouses & 6 small grandchildren- ages 5 mo - 7 years old, all first-timers. We have been on: RCI Nordic Empress, Vision, and Radiance, Grand & Dawn Princess, Carnival Celebration, and HAL Veendam. We sailed out of New Orleans, embarkation was a madhouse ( compounded by the lack of parking nearby). Once on board things were much smoother! The Grandeur is a lovely ship that needs some refurbishing here and there. It has a beautiful atrium area, and the artwork is most impressive. We were in 5 inside cabins, two of which were adjoining quads, which I would recommend highly to anyone travelling with small children. Cabin 7645 & 7647 were unfortunately directly above the South Pacific lounge and the thump-thump-thump of the rock band went on til about 1:00 am. However, the spaciousness of two cabins with up to 8 bunks, and the darkness for kid's naps overcame this problem.
The service we encountered was superior to just about all our previous cruises, especially the cabin steward--Anderson from Trinidad absolutely spoiled us in every way. The wait staff in the dining room was excellent. Unfortunately, they apologized frequently about the food, which was pretty mediocre. We don't expect fabulous gourmet food on a cruise ship, but we also don't expect food overcooked, undercooked, or lukewarm when it should be hot. All previous cruises food way exceeded this one. The desserts, however, were excellent. RCI gives its passengers lots of options for recreation & entertainment, there was something going on 24/7. I managed to find several quiet hideaway spots- especially enjoyed the "Relaxation Room" which was part of the spa (but you could go anytime, you didn't have to book anything in connection with it) It was a room with a wall of glass overlooking the wake of the ship & a panoramic view of the sea, with soft music & aromatherapy piped in, big comfortable seats, and a wooden box full of quality tea bags, and an always full pot of piping hot water. This is where my day at sea usually started. Heaven!! There was plenty of partying, too. The crowd on this itinerary was more of a party crowd than on our previous cruises (except our Carnival one & it was also out of New Orleans) I guess the largely southern crowd had something to do with that- there were 200 Cajuns on board, they brought their own band! Our kids loved the Adventure Ocean program--it was open 9-12, 3-6, 7pm-10pm, then for $5.00 per hour your child could stay in a group babysitting called "late night". There were organized activites the whole time- we were impressed that the kids get their own daily program. There is no swimming program connected with AO, so you have to take them swimming in the main outdoor pool, but this has a large area of shallow water fenced off from the deep end--great for toddlers. One more very negative thing: there was a pervasive odor of sewage in the Centrum area several times during our cruise, and we found out that there is a flaw in the ventilation system. It very much detracted from the overall ambiance of this beautiful area. We had a great time & would go back tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself, but it would not be our first choice for our favorite.